Keeping Your Dog Calm During A Thunderstorm
Two days after arriving home from Missouri, we had some bad weather come in and we experienced torrential downpours, high winds, thunder, and lightning. The pups have been out in all weather from hot days to cold nights, falling snow and rain, and have never been affected by any of it. When lighting hit and thunder shook the house, they reacted with unease and nervousness. I kept telling them “it’s ok” but I just didn’t feel I was doing enough to calm their nerves. I got on-line and through Purina’s website found an article with some interesting information.
What I did not know is that dogs also possess special sensitivities that make storms even more terrifying: dogs can sense the change in air pressure, and may hear low-frequency rumblings that humans can’t detect. Some vets also believe dogs experience shocks from the buildup of static electricity that accompanies thunderstorms.
According to Cynthia Bolte who works on the animal behavior team at Purina, here are a few things that you can do to keep your pet calm during a thunderstorm:
- Close all doors and blinds so your pet cannot see outside.
- Provide a cage for your pet to go into keeping the door open and covering with a blanket.
- Play calming music to drown out the sound of the storm.
- Distract your pet with familiar games and treats.
- Massage your dog to help keep him or her distracted by the sound.
- Try putting on a “thunder jacket” or a form fitting t-shirt with the front legs in the arms holes and the shirt wrapped firmly around the torso to provide comfort and support.
- Have your vet provide you anti-anxiety medication for your pet in severe cases.
Most importantly, practice positive reinforcement with your dog. Do not scold or punish her for her displays of anxiety, but remember that her behavior is not about disobedience, but about high levels of fear. And that old saw about not comforting your dog because it “reinforces” the fear? Not true at all. Do anything you can to help your dog feel better; teaching her new, pleasant associations is the best way to reduce fearful behavior.
I am constantly hugging Jake and Maggie and I’ll be sure to give them extra attention during a storm!
“Jake and Maggie were wrestling on the chair with each other and when I asked them what they were doing, I got this response”. LOL! “Sorry for the shakiness…I was laughing at them!”
“Maggie watching a ladybug”!!
‘Relaxing in the sun”!!
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